Gillingham Ladies continued their unbeaten start to the season as they romped to a 5-1 victory against Spurs on Sunday afternoon at Chatham Town.
Gills got off to a rather slow start, pushed by Spurs’ determined chasing of the ball into forced errors and loose passes. Tottenham fought hard to reduce the Gills game and attacked the wings to try and create an opening. Gillingham’s defence demonstrated great calm and organisation, preventing Tottenham from producing any clear cut changes.
Tottenham were presented a good opportunity after a foul was committed on the edge of the area. The Spurs player stepped up to take the set piece and her effort whistled wide around the right hand post.
Gillingham’s movement off the ball made it difficult for the league leaders to thread together attacking play. Fliss Gibbons produced the Gills best chance, charging on goal from the half way line to launch an effort from range, enforcing the Spurs keeper to push the ball wide for a corner.
Gills began to settle into the game after 20 minutes, orchestrating the tempo of play and were rewarded when Charlotte Gurr whipped in a corner, captain Jay Blackie glanced the ball across and found defender Amy Taylor who showed great skill, taking the ball down and smashing a right footed volley into the back of the net.
Gillingham nearly surrendered their lead minutes later when Gills Ladies switched off in defence and a Spurs attacker was found unmarked six yards out. Gills keeper Faye Baker helped her team maintain they lead with an outstanding save, making herself big, Bakers’ outstreched leg managed to direct the ball wide.
Gillingham were beginning to find their way through the Spurs’ formation with Jade Keogh beginning to cause problems down the wing. Keogh delivered a fantastic cross into the box but no Gillingham player could be found and the Spurs keeper was able to gather the ball comfortably.
Tottenham were in on goal next after a sliced clearance from Taylor fell into the path of the Spurs attacker who ran freely on goal. Baker managed to do enough to put the striker off as she blazed her shot over the crossbar.
Gills lost possession moments later and Tottenham were able to press on Gills goal, Taylor came to the rescue with a brilliant last ditch tackle, preventing Spurs from exploiting Gillingham’s error.
Spurs were rewarded for their pressure when they made the most of a set piece in a dangerous position. A glancing header undid the Gills and the North London outfit levelled the score.
The equaliser spurred Gillingham to increase their work rate and they began to take control of the game, making the most of their superior fitness levels to unlock Tottenham’s midfield and defence continually.
As a result, it did not take long for Gillingham to snatch the lead back. A lovely ball was delivered into the box to find Emma Tune who turned smartly and finished ruthlessly to make it three goals in as many games for the Gills midfielder.
Gillingham came agonisingly close to securing a third before half time as Lauren Williams executed a great cross which Gurr came centimetres from making crucial contact with. Instead, the ball fell to Keogh who attempted to strike the ball from a tight angle past the keeper. Tottenham’s centre back was able to block the effort as the rebound fell to Danielle Carlton on the edge of the box, Carlton placed a powerful effort on target but the keeper was well placed to gather.
First team debutant Cat Cooper was next to test the Spurs defence with a well placed cross from the right hand side. Gibbons and Gurr tried desperately to make the most of the opportunity but could only force a corner.
Taylor pushed forward from defence again to gallop towards goal, showing great determination to overcome the desperate shirt pull from her opposing centre-back. Gills were able to get a corner from the forceful run and defender Deanna Cooper pulled off an effort which trickled past the inside post.
Gillingham Ladies still had to show good composure as Tottenham looked to exploit their physical counter attacking play to find a way back into the game. Blackie did a sterling job in centre midfield, dealing with the Spurs direct and aggressive play as they attempted to launch over the top to infiltrate the Gills defensive line.
Carlton almost made it three for Gillingham as her free kick from 25 yards out headed on target to test the Spurs keeper. The ball took a wicked last minute deflection as the goalkeeper was left scrambling to smother the ball.
Half time: 2-1
Gillingham put a slow opening 20 minutes behind them and enjoyed a much better second half performance, spending long periods of the remaining 45 minutes attacking the Spurs half.
Gills patience passing play helped unlock the Spurs defence on several occasions. Gibbons managed to drive forwards, leaving several Spurs defenders behind to cut the ball back into the area but no-one was able to make the most of the delivery.
Gurr showed great resilience, picking the ball up and making a great run down the left before cutting the ball back to Keogh who fizzled an effort over the crossbar.
Gillingham’s pressure was rewarded as Tune grabbed a brace to extend the Gills lead. After some fantastic build up play, Gurr teed up the opportunity on the edge of the box for Tune to rocket the ball into the back of the net.
Tottenham decided to play three up front to test the Gillingham defence but the girls worked well and were able to prevent keeper Baker from having too much work to do.
Baker almost turned provider after launching a clearance which Gibbons fought well to get on the end of it. Gibbons used her body well to stand up to her marker and was able to carry the ball into the penalty area. Spurs keeper came off her line to try and smuggled the ball away but Gibbons eventually was forced off the ball by a clumsy challenge and the referee pointed to the spot.
Gurr stepped up to take the penalty and placed the ball cooly to beat the Spurs keeper.
Deanna Cooper came close again for Gills after being set up by a cross from Keogh. The Gills defender managed to execute a sweet right footed volley but the ball creeped just wide after taking a deflection.
Gillingham freshened things up in the final 20 minutes bringing Lauren Davis, Lisa Fulgence and Lauren Phillips on to sting the Spurs defence further.
Fulgence almost made an instant impact as her first shot was a fizzling shot which rattled the crossbar.
Fulgence made no mistake minutes later, as Baker passes out to Carlton who produced an inch perfect ball for Fulgence to run onto. The Gills striker left her marker in the dust as she sped forward on goal and finished smartly.
Fulgence could have got a second after a cheeky chip over the keeper rolled slowly towards the back of the net. Tottenham showed great determination to clear off the line and prevent a more damaging scoreline.
As the game threatened to boil over, with some mistimed tackles breaking up the game, Gillingham showed great maturity to see the game out and secure a well deserved three points.
The 5-1 victory means Gillingham Ladies stay top of the FA Women’s Premier Southern Division as they remain undefeated this season season.
Gillingham Ladies: Faye Baker, Amy Taylor, Deanna Cooper, Cat Cooper (Lauren Davis), Lauren Williams, Jay Blackie (Lauren Phillips), Danielle Carlton, Emma Tune, Jade Keogh (Lisa Fulgence), Charlotte Gurr, Fliss Gibbons